Volodymyr Zelensky made the plea in a video address on Monday to the leaders of 10 countries that make up the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a British-led group of northern European countries, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
Zelensky told the gathering in Riga, Latvia: "To a large extent it depends on you when and how this war will end. And everything is very specific. The more successful our defense forces are, the sooner Russian aggression will fail."
Air defences, tanks, armoured vehicles
Addressing British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Zelensky said via video link from Kyiv, as quoted by his office: “I am asking you to increase the possibility of supplying air defence systems to our state and help speed up the relevant decisions of partners. One hundred percent air shield for Ukraine will be one of the most successful steps against Russian aggression. And this step is needed right now.”
While not addressing the request directly, Sunak replied that the JEF leaders assembled in Riga would be "talking about how best we can continue to support you and get you everything that you need," the Reuters news agency reported.
Zelensky told Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren: “For our defence operations to be more successful, we need modern armoured vehicles. First of all, tanks.”
He added: “There is no explanation why Ukraine has not yet obtained a decision on the provision of modern and effective tanks - in particular Leopards. This is vital! I am asking you and your partners to reach this decision, to help us.”
NASAMS missiles, Gripen aircraft, Caesar howitzers
Moreover, Zelensky asked Norway to supply more Norwegian-made NASAMS launchers and missiles, and he also asked Sweden for Swedish-produced Gripen fighter aircraft, RBS 98 missiles and Archer artillery, according to Reuters.
He further requested Caesar howitzers from Denmark, more ammunition shells from Finland, NASAMS and Stinger missiles from Lithuania, artillery from Latvia, and howitzers and ammunition from Estonia, Reuters reported.
Zelensky went on to say: “Ukrainian children, in their letters to St. Nicholas [Santa Claus], ask for air defence, weapons and victory - victory for themselves, victory for all Ukrainians. Our children understand everything. Let's act!”
UK to send EUR 287 mln worth of artillery ammunition to Ukraine in 2023
During the Riga get-together, Britain’s Sunak said that Russia must withdraw from Ukrainian territory before any peace negotiations can begin, the PAP news agency reported.
Before the meeting, the government in London announced it would supply “hundreds of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition next year, under a GBP 250 million (EUR 287 million) contract that will ensure a constant flow of critical artillery ammunition to Ukraine throughout 2023,” reporters were told.
The Joint Expeditionary Force is designed to respond rapidly to crises in Northern Europe, and comprises the UK as well as Nordic, Dutch and Baltic partners: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.
The 10 leaders meeting in Riga, Latvia, were: Britain's Sunak, Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, the Netherlands’ Ollongren, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, Danish Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, Finnish President Sauli Väinämö Niinistö, and Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, officials said.
Monday was day 299 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Source: IAR, PAP, Reuters, president.gov.ua, gov.uk